BERLIN — After serving with the town for nearly a decade, Berlin Police Department (BPD) K-9 Titus has officially and his replacement, Luke, is now on the streets.
At 9 years old, Titus, has spent his entire career with Berlin. He began training at only a few months old with future handler BPD Senior Officer Chris Bireley. While he’s made the transition to handling Luke, Bireley admitted that Titus was unique for him.
“He was my first dog,” he said.
Bireley and Titus trained together at Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania for three months before Titus came on as a BPD K-9. According to Bireley, the training was intense and comprehensive.
“Before we left, we had to pass a certification,” he said.
With Luke, Bireley didn’t need to go through that same process. Because he was an experienced handler already, BPD was able to purchase Luke pre-trained. While this increased the price, with Luke costing about $11,750 to Titus’ $2,500, Bireley pointed out that Berlin was able to avoid paying for the expensive qualification training. Additionally, Luke was able to hit the streets immediately, allowing Titus, who began to cut back on duties in January, to finally leave the BPD entirely.
While Berlin currently only has Luke as an active K-9, Bireley stressed that the dog is an incredibly important tool for law enforcement. Besides searching for narcotics, which Bireley explained makes up about half of a K-9’s duty, Luke is also able to go out on patrol, track fugitives or missing persons.
“They could track a lost child,” said Bireley.
Given the role K-9’s play, Mayor Gee Williams said that he and the rest of the council would be interested in learning more about the program, with the possibility of adding more dogs to BPD in the future if there was a need.
“We as a Mayor and Council don’t have much experience with that and we’d be glad to learn ourselves,” he said.
Titus has now become the newest civilian member of Bireley’s family.